(Credit: Magnolia House)

(Credit: Magnolia House)


From after-work happy hour to lazy weekend brunches, cocktails are an integral part of the dining experience. Mixologists and beverage directors are taking advantage of this season’s produce and popular spirits to make drinks that will have you asking for a second, and perhaps a third, without hesitation. Here are a few of the best buzzworthy cocktails for the spring.

(Credit: Casa Vega)

(Credit: Casa Vega)


Skinny Margarita
Casa Vega
13301 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 788-4868
www.casavega.com

Casa Vega recently launched its Skinny Margarita promotion, which means you can enjoy a lighter version of their well-known margs with a little less guilt. These margaritas are made with reposado tequila, fresh lime juice, agave and a little spring water. The best part of the deal is they’re only $6 in honor of the restaurant’s 60 year anniversary. The special promo ends on April 30th, so you have a couple of weeks to carefully back margaritas that won’t break the bank. Or your belt.

(Credit: Chrystal Baker)

(Credit: Chrystal Baker)


Le Saint Germain
Le Petit Paris
418 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 217-4445
www.lepetitparisla.com

This French bistro in the Historic Core of Downtown LA introduced a new cocktail menu that sings spring in Paris. Those who love champagne will flip for Le Saint Germain. It’s a blend of pear vodka, St. Germain, fresh lemon juice and champagne. St. Germain is a French liqueur derived from elderflowers that blossom during this time of year, and it has fruity, flowery notes that mesh well with various spirits. Everything about this cocktail showcases the best elements of the season.

(Credit: Magnolia House)

(Credit: Magnolia House)


Almost Palmer
Magnolia House
492 South Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 584-1126
www.themaghouse.com

Venture to Pasadena for brunch, and you can enjoy Magnolia House’s newest cocktail – the Almost Palmer. This play on the traditionally non-alcoholic tea and lemonade combo takes it up a notch, serving a chilled glass of vodka-spiked honey ginger lemonade with a “sidecar” of lapsang souchong-infused scotch on the side. The latter is poured tableside, so tilt your head a bit, and let your nose catch the floating, smoky aroma from the Chinese tea as the scotch infusion hits the glass. Magnolia House guarantees you’ll appreciate the complexity of this cocktail the second it hits your lips, and even more so when paired with one of the weekend brunch dishes.

(Credit: The Pikey)

(Credit: The Pikey)


Rhubarb Old Fashioned
The Pikey
7617 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 850-5400
www.thepikeyla.com

Tart rhubarb is one of the first to appear when spring’s produce rears its head. The Pikey makes use of this vegetable in the new Rhubarb Old Fashioned. This mix of bourbon, rhubarb, and rhubarb bitters on the rocks was inspired by a batch of leftover rhubarb reduction that would eventually serve as inspiration for the final cocktail. Rhubarb pairs well with orange, so let that fresh peel release its flavors and natural oils while you sip.

(Credit: The Deep End)

(Credit: The Deep End)


Aerolite
The Deep End
819 South Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 688-0888
www.honeycutla.com

DTLA’s Honeycut recently announced a revamp of its previous cocktail bar that will now be known as The Deep End. Imagine your favorite bar with an intergalactic, space-age twist. The makeover demanded new cocktails of course. Try the Aerolite, which blends blanco and reposado tequilas, pear brandy manzanilla sherry, pineapple syrup, fresh lime juice, and aloe juice, to create a seemingly glow-in-the-dark drink. Here’s the catch: The Deep End lounge is only open on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but you can still get your dance on at the Honeycut Disco Thursday through Saturday.

(Credit: Sushi Roku)

(Credit: Sushi Roku)


Sushi Roku
1401 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 458-4771
www.innovativedining.com

Sushi Roku in Santa Monica and Pasadena gave its cocktail menu a facelift, adding several new concoctions. Add the Smokin’ Yuzu to your must-try list. This drink combines two popular elements–smoke and citrus–both of which are aromatically intriguing. Mezcal, fresh orange juice, yuzu and agave come together with a float of Grand Marnier. It may remind you of a smoldering margarita, only better.

(Credit: The Nice Guy)

(Credit: The Nice Guy)


Fig Et About It
The Nice Guy
401 North La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 360-9500
www.theniceguyla.com

The Nice Guy’s vibe by John Terzian and The h.wood Group is all about that old school Italian mafioso vibe, and the Fig Et About It is a sweet tribute to that era. Your coupe glass is a striking pink-hued blend of gin, fresh puréed figs, fresh lemon juice, Sicilian mandarin orange liqueur and foamy egg whites. A dash of black pepper adds a bit of spice, as well as balance to the natural sweet and tangy notes of the drink.

(Credit: EP & LP)

(Credit: EP & LP)


Block Rockin’ Beets
E.P. & L.P.
603 North La Cienega Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 855-9955
www.eplosangeles.com

Beets are not just for smoothies and fresh-pressed juices. They’re prime candidates for bold cocktails. E.P., the main restaurant portion of E.P. & L.P., ushered in a new list of cocktails, including the Block Rockin’ Beets. It’s a beautiful, perhaps entrancing, glass of mezcal, smoked tea, fresh beet juice, lime juice and agave. After a couple of these guys with dinner, head up to the L.P. rooftop lounge for great views of the city.

(Credit: Hotel Casa del Mar)

(Credit: Hotel Casa del Mar)


La Violetta
Terrazza Lounge
Hotel Casa del Mar
1910 Ocean Way
Santa Monica, CA 90405
www.hotelcasadelmar.com

Terrazza Lounge kicked off the season with a new roster of cocktails, including La Violetta. Vodka, crème de violette, St. Germaine, honey-ginger syrup, and fresh lemon juice meet, in combination with an absinthe rinse, for a sweetly floral and herbacious drink. Terrazza is one of those sleek Santa Monica hotel hideouts with excellent views of the beach and unique cocktails showcased via weekly wine and liquor event. Plus, midweek happy hour and frequent live entertainment aren’t bad either.

(Credit: The Carbon Club)

(Credit: The Carbon Club)


The Dune
The Carbon Club
22878 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 460-7509
www.malibubeachinn.com

The Dune is The Carbon Club’s ode to an old-school soda fountain ice cream float. Minus the soda and ice cream. Who needs root beer when you have Korean sake and Irish whiskey? Liquid coconut purée is the element that adds texture and consistency, and a dash of vanilla bitters will remind your tongue of a very familiar flavor. With oceanfront views and our warm weather, you may find yourself feeling a summer-in-paradise kind of vibe.

(Credit: Faith & Flower)

(Credit: Faith & Flower)


Shiso Easy
Faith & Flower
705 West 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA
(213) 239-0642
www.faithandflowerla.com

Faith & Flower’s bar program introduced eight brand new cocktails categorized by their shared characteristics. The cleverly named Shiso Easy falls under the “Bubbles, Refreshing” umbrella thanks to a mix of tequila blanco, dry vermouth, shiso, cucumber and fresh lime. As a member of the mint family, shiso adds a bright, herbal quality to the cocktail along with the cooling, revitalizing elements of cucumber. No doubt perfect any time, the Shiso Easy is definitely one that would rock during brunch on the restaurant’s patio.

Chrystal Baker is a freelance food and events contributor for CBS Los Angeles, Basil Magazine and Frugivore Magazine. She is the co-editor of a recipe blog, The Duo Dishes, and manages her own lifestyle and travel blog, Any and Everywhere.
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